Having secured a dominant Varsity Twenty20 win in 2012 under the leadership of Warwickshire 2nd XI member Ben Williams, in 2013 the Men’s Blues are seeking to go two better by overturning Cambridge’s hold on the Varsity 50-over and 4-day fixtures. Led by the vastly experienced Samridh Agarwal, the squad has received an influx of talented freshers, and early season form suggests that this squad could revive OUCC’s dominance of the early 2000s.
The Blues currently sit top of BUCS South having claimed dominant victories over Southampton, Brunel and Aberystwyth to complement a more tensely fought win over Bath. The side has been ably led by Pembroke ‘keeper Sam Westaway, entering his 3rd season with the squad as deputy to Agarwal, who has been delighted with the early season success. He commented, “The great strength of the 2013 squad is undoubtedly in its depth. We’ve had performances from stalwarts such as Sam Agarwal and the returning Dan Pascoe but it has been the form and contribution of younger squad members that has really excited me. Take for example New College’s Sam Cato, who against Aberystwyth was a revelation with both bat and ball”.
Agarwal’s blazing hundred against Brunel sees him top the run scoring chart, where he sits alongside former Tab Gus Kennedy whose aggregate was boosted by back to back half-centuries against Southampton and Aberystwyth. The strange anomaly that is Oxbridge Cricket also provides the Blues with a series of fixtures against the countries strongest club teams, school boy teams and composite XI’s. Teddington Cricket Club, renowned as one of London’s strongest clubs and satisfied by a 140 run thumping of Cambridge’s Blues the day before, visited The Parks in early May.
The Blues rattled through the Teddington top order, reducing them to 104-6 before they scampered to 191 in their 50 overs. In reply, Ben Jeffery launched a solid reply before Worcester’s Tom Chadwick saw the team home to a dominant victory with 38*. The fixture against the nomadic ‘Arabs’ saw former England ODI spinner Alex Loudon blaze a hundred before 1998 Blues Captain Mark Wagh compiled a masterful 180. 370 was plenty enough for the visitors, but not before they were met by force of fresher Matt Winter. The LMH batsmen dispatched the Arab attack to all parts of the Parks, and indeed Oxfordshire, before being cruelly run-out in sight of a deserved century.
However, perhaps the most dominant victory of the season to date was reserved for the Blues’ annual trip to Arundel Castle. Set in the idyllic West Sussex estate, the ground is overlooked by the 11th century stately home of the Duke of Norfolk, and the opposition comes in the form of an XI, bearing the Duke’s name, and containing some of the Sussex leagues best club cricketers and visiting professionals. The Blues fielded first on a bitter spring day, with Keble’s Don Gordon opening up with an accurate and incisive first spell. The spoils were however shared; with Agarwal and Cato also each claiming vital wickets as the Blues took a dominant position. A series of calamitous run outs saw the Duke’s XI declaring at 9-down to set a possibly tricky target of 191 in 45 overs. As it turned out the target was a touch too small, as Ben Jeffery bludgeoned a magnificent unbeaten hundred and Kennedy 78* to see the team home with all 10 wickets still in tact. The 50-over Varsity Match is at Lords Cricket Ground on Saturday of 8th Week. Tickets can be bought on the door. The Twenty20 is at Fenner’s Cricket Ground in Cambridge on Thursday of 9th and the 4-Day Varsity Match begins on July 2nd at Fenner’s Cricket Ground and can be followed on Cricinfo.
PHOTO / Lawrence OP